Wednesday, April 8, 2009

President Obama: "We do not consider ourselves a Christian Nation."

This is pretty self-explanatory. Just thought it would be interesting to hear everyone's remarks. Maybe we'll get another 140 comments...then again, maybe not.

President Obama also made some similar comments while campaigning:



Tom Van Dyke said...

All I'll say is that if John McCain had been elected and said we were a Christian nation [which he sorta kinda did at one point], that wouldn't make it so.

Now, it may have been politic for President Obama to say what he did in a Muslim nation, and it may be impolitic for any politician to call us a Christian nation at any time [as McCain found out].

None of the above changes history one way or the other except in a Ministry of Truth way. The beat goes on.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, my first post was sort of a meta-argument, that what politicians say isn't necessarily the truth. [And with politicians, even half would be optimistic.]

After reviewing the hubbub in the blogosphere re the president's actual remarks, they're certainly accurate if we're speaking of America demographically. They need not be germane to our discussions here of religion and the Founding.

And many of those upset by his remarks miss the "just" part of his remarks as in "we're not just a Christian nation" these days.

Further, in the context of a Turkish audience, he could be seen as selling them an American-style pluralism that surpasses the current state of affairs in Turkey, a pitch that few Americans should disagree with. From the Wiki:

This system of Turkish laïcité permeates both the government and religious sphere. The content of the weekly sermons in all state funded mosques has to be approved by the state. Also, independent Sunni communities are illegal. Minority religions, like Armenian or Greek Orthodoxy, are guaranteed by the constitution as individual faiths and are mostly tolerated, but this guarantee does not give any rights to religious communities. The Treaty of Lausanne gives certain religious rights to Jews, Greeks, and Armenians but not, for example, to Syrian-Orthodox or Roman Catholics, because of the fact that the latter ones did not play any political roles during the treaty.

Recently, the reestablishment of the old Greek Orthodox seminary on Heybeli Island near Istanbul became a political issue in regard to Turkey's accession to EU membership. The EU considers such prohibition to amount to suppression of religious freedom. However, it is pointed out that if Greek Orthodoxy is allowed to reopen a school it will become the only religion in Turkey with the right to an independent religious school. Recent attempts by the conservative government to outlaw adultery caused an outcry in Turkey and was seen as an attempt to legislate Islamic values, but others point out that the legislation was intended to combat polygamy which is still common in rural areas, although not recognized legally. Also, as in France, Muslims are forbidden from wearing the hijab in government institutions such as schools (whether as teachers or as students), or the civil service. The ban in universities was briefly lifted in 2008, but reinstated by court order later that year.

Unknown said...

I would agree that we are not a Christian Nation. We are an American nation. The ideals of this nation and its founding are not the necessary conclusion of an application of Christian ideology to a nation's founding.

Rather in fact, the case could be made that from the Bible could arise a number of different national identities, some drastically opposed to our own, and that many of our national values stand in contrast to those expressed in the Bible, such as individualism, reason, capitalism, pride, etc.

Naum said...

@Tom Van Dyke

I am curious as to what your credentials are for casting aspersions on the credibility of others who you are quick to label as partisan or ideologues. It brands you as such, considering that the people you brand hold advanced degrees, Pulitzer Prizes, long records of public service…

Your posts are in the mode of objective pronouncements but it seems that you're the individual with a partisan tick.

Your blogger profile shows nothing more than "goofy blogger"…

Raven said...

Naum, I am afraid that is all you will ever get from my dear friend Van Dyke. He's just a finger-pointer.

Jonathan Rowe said...

TVD is, if nothing, a smart cookie.

He's won numerous TV game shows (including Ben Stein's Money, and the HIGHEST ever winner on "The Jokers Wild") and has published for the American Spectator.

Seriously, do you really think you actually need a "PhD" or something along those lines to be learned and able to make smart arguments? Didn't you see "Good Will Hunting" and how Matt Damon deals with the Harvard Grad. student?

What are you some kind of elitist?

Brad Hart said...

Jon Rowe! Bringing the beat-down...on the blog...about the founders...taking names...kickin’ ass!!! =)

I too will vouch for Mr. Van Dyke-O-Rama. Though I've never met the guy, he's a smart dude who knows his stuff. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve cracked skulls with him in the past over issues on which we don’t see eye-to-eye. But I won’t deny the guy’s smarts.

God forbid we don't all agree on the same issues. The audacity!!!

Naum said...

A smart guy with a ability to retain information… …OK…

But in reading through posts here, repeatedly, I see Mr. Van Dyke commit baseless namecalling — on one post it was disparaging Chris Hedges and Bill Moyers — Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize winner who holds a Master of Divinity, and can back up what he's talking about v. "goofy blogger" that seems to add nothing to the knowledge base…

Tom Van Dyke said...

Thx for the back, guys.

I thought my comments here were pretty even-handed and even standing up for the president in the face of criticism he's receiving for his remarks.

As for Messrs. Hedges and Moyers, I'm quite willing to defend my criticism of them as "journalists," and I have with fact, not opinion. Both have willfully abandoned objectivity in favor of advocacy. Which is OK, but neither deserve the appellation of "journalist."

But this is not the proper forum, as it would junk up intelligent discussion of the important things, like the actual topic of the OP.

Naum said...

Your opinion, that of a "goofy blogger" v. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist with scholarly credentials and frontline experiences as opposed to your slant.

Every post, funny how you're "objective" and they're "advocacy"… …you confuse "objectivity" with "neutrality".

"As for Messrs. Hedges and Moyers, I'm quite willing to defend my criticism of them as "journalists," and I have with fact, not opinion. Both have willfully abandoned objectivity in favor of advocacy. Which is OK, but neither deserve the appellation of "journalist."

Tom Van Dyke said...

I printed a substantive rebuttal to Hedges' work, that he conflates the Dominionist fringe with any Christian to the right of Jim Wallis.

As for Moyers' hackery---and "hack" was the word I used---look up his shenanigans in the LBJ White House. And I've seen his "journalism" on PBS: his guest list can be quantified that his style is to present both sides of the same side.

As for Karen Armstong, whom I mentioned in the same discussion, a little research will show that as a theologian, she's taken seriously only by those who don't take theology seriously.

And come to think of it, I'm still waiting for any rebuttal of Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Oscar Handlin's chronicling of Howard Zinn's misrepresentation of the facts. Seems he should have gotten at least a little backwash from the Barton flood.

And that's what this is really about, isn't Mr. Daum? Yes, I do try very hard to be even-handed. If I indulged in sophistry and overheated rhetoric more, I suppose I could appear more convincing. But I'm not looking to convince anyone of anything except keeping an open mind, question everything, and decide for themselves. Religion isn't the only orthodoxy---Bill Moyers is selling one, too.